Eclectic Voices -Selected by Michael Griffith

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Recompence

by Chris Ernest Nelson

I pay for your night
with my own darkness.
I atone for your suffering
with suffering of my own.

As you cower in terror of
your fate, I hold my peace
and tremble at my own
approaching doom.

I feel your loneliness
from my own isolation.
I bear witness to your death,
while I myself am dying.

You may quibble about
degree, your fate is more
terrible than mine. But
we all share the same end.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning Shift

By Jim Young

One foot in front of the other, well not quite,
for the sleepers slip frosty and my brain is numb;
too much to drink with the boys last night.
The rail is snaking away like the serpent that
shone so seductively in her smile last night across
the
dance floor, spinning under the ballroom light
that
sparkled like the hoar frost beneath my feet.
I walk on autopilot towards the Vale works,
stacks smoking in the slow straight dawn;
oh yawn, yawn, I need a mug of tea mun.
Boys, boys, never again.
Clock on son, clock on.


Ann
By Johanna Antonia Zomers

Furrows woven with early snow;
ravens pivot against pewter clouds.
The front room in melted leaden light.
A fig tree and hum of a pellet stove.
Chimney smoke rises through
calligraphy of branches.
I sit with Ann, gaunt,
dry-lipped, her worn flesh
the colour of old bone.
She burns with a terrible final fire:
the raw grandeur of
the universe re-claiming its own.


Eight Stone Three
By Ken Allan Dronsfield

I sketched your face in
the midst of a bleached sky.
Touching the cool wet sands
barefoot and loaded tonight.
Awaiting the rising red moon
ballerinas twirl on the sea wall
eight stone three drifting away
guided by ghosts of privateers.
Eyes expressionless and blank;
swale grass on the dunes quiver.
Now you’re here; then you’re gone;
as tears in the rain, the days of fear.
I’m sinking into the charcoal sketch
a note sits in crayon upon the dash
the justification simply uselessness.
Eight stone three melts into the sea.


Two micropoems
by David A. Estringel

Indelible,
God’s fingerprints leave stains
upon human destinies.

Atop wrinkled sheets,
drowned in the story of us,
I die a little.


38th Parallel
By Marcy Clark

He’s hunched in the wheelchair,
right leg left behind in 1951, left one supporting
the bag
and ragged ear tips hidden in his army ball cap,
worn right, the bill shadowing indigo eyes

Fingers, dipped in chesterfields and yellow talons,
snake out, tweak nurses’ behinds, they unravel
meds,
pulls a three sixty,
zigzags their squealing artillery and rolls into the
dining hall

Leering at a bevy of new CNAs spooning
applesauce
into old lady whispers,
he hacks a string of coughs and wheels back into
the corridor
searching for a crony winged in Seoul

Ends up back of the dumpster with the night
janitor, fought in Nam,
they scent the air with ribbons of nicotine and
mary jane
and words they weren’t supposed to use any more
about the people they fought in war

Ritual
By Agnes Vojta

Give me your pain
and I will fashion it a shrine.
I will craft a reliquary
for your tears.
I will build a temple
to your suffering

where gods of stone
turn their faces
to the wall

and the altar
holds nothing but a knife
and a burnished bowl.

I will bare my wrist
and be both celebrant
and sacrifice.

Some of Us Never Adjust Completely
By Jim Bourey

My old friend Carl went away|
a week ago for some rehab. Fifth time
in eight years. He’s not broken.

Not completely. His wife is not afraid.
Too much medication, a little booze.
Talks to himself in dark rooms. Argues

with light bulbs, injures furniture.
His heart is not hard, just scarred.
He came back in seventy-one. Worked

with me for a couple years. He showed me
some new ways of thinking. Taught me how to avoid the snares of being alone

on the road, how to live clean.
Not that he could. His bad dreams
were fresher, darker, filled with blood.

Today I thought about calling
him. But I didn’t.

Amen Funeral
By Luke Kuzmish

I want to be holy
my dad told me it means set apart
he didn’t care
what Allen Ginsberg had to say
besides
he looks like David Cross
or
Jeff Goldblum

I read the instructions
on how to be Catholic
in Catholic Digest
or Catholic Today
or something like that
in the doctor’s office
three generations of my family
having been to this practice
mine the first
to not have been Catholic
to not die
looking forward
to a vial of holy water
sprinkled by a disinterested priest
in a white robe
under December clouds

I remember the Methodist side
of my blood
the limousines
and the hard candy
in the funeral parlor
the stiffness of speech
and the reconnection of a large family
who never owned a farm

I remember my grandfather’s funeral
the white gloves
I didn’t want to keep
bearing the casket
with men in dark suits
and I felt like a boy
I don’t know when he died
but I remember I couldn’t think
of heaven
with the ire
that I normally felt for the faithful
when the water was placid
and I just needed to create my own waves
I remember the flag
forgot he was in the Navy
he was hairy
and silent
smelled like musk
and shook
and didn’t know why
he was walking down the road
in his underwear
heaven never seemed so real
as when I was a teenage atheist
at a funeral
I remember the flag
forgot he was in the Navy
he was hairy
and silent
smelled like musk
and shook
and didn’t know why
he was walking down the road
in his underwear

heaven never seemed so real
as when I was a teenage atheist
at a funeral

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